Light fills the sky at early hours and is abundant throughout the day. The air is fresh and slightly wet, a chill remains after the evening rain. The great Rio Baker flows beside our camp, it’s current swift and swirling in various directions, it’s power almost tangible even as it moves silently along. It is vast, it’s color is unfathomable, a greenish hue that does not seem real. Clouds descend from the heavens, no longer heavy with rain and instead form a light mist that hovers just above the surface of the water and weaves it’s way among the surrounding peaks.
I fight the chilly bite of the morning air; we work together in this, she and I- her body works to produce heat, my down filling provides insulation; we’re a good team. It’s damp but we are warm. We pack up camp, shaking the sopping wet rainfly, tucking the damp tent into it’s bag. All the while the river flows beside us, moving forth an entire world beneath it’s surface. Dry bags are stuffed into backpacks. Dogs are fed piles of kibble on opposite sides of a calafate bush that is overflowing with not-quite-yet-ripened berries. As she finishes her pile of food, Curi Cuyen trots down to the edge of the river and laps up the glacial runoff.
We shoulder the heavy packs, the belt strap grips my lower half, the back brace and shoulder straps hug the rest of me. And then, we walk.
The morning is quiet, this place is quiet, we are all quiet.
We arrive at a small shelter; the packs are dropped, I feel liberated. She stretches and I stretch with her, the cool air again wrapping itself fully around me. A pick-up truck speeds by along the narrow dirt road, her thumb is out but it doesn’t convince him and the truck continues on. The thumb is dropped, and we wait.
Oh but what a place to wait. Mountains beckon our gaze in all directions. The Rio Baker continues to flow. Hanging glaciers are wedged between mountain summits, resulting in more waterfalls than can possibly be counted. I’m fit to burst with a desire to celebrate this place, with a desire to leap and bound and yell with glee. Yesterday she was nearly brought to tears as we rode across the bumpy, dusty road. This place moves me as well.
The name of this land, of this place whose mountains and air, skies and rivers I’m currently getting to know so well- the name of it sits silently on my upper left panel, and just beneath it sits her heart, beating with a similar rush of excitement that I’m feeling.
Patagonia. We’ve finally arrived.